Gulfstream Park, located in Hallandale Beach, Fla. – just North of Miami – is one of the most scenic racetracks in America. The place is also an entertainment destination, offering horse racing, a casino, bars, restaurants and some high-end shopping.
Tune in to Fox Sports 1 at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday for coverage of the Donn Handicap and Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.
Sintonice a Fox Deportes a las 5 pm ET este domingo para la cobertura del Donn Handicap y el Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.
This weekend, the track’s dance card is overflowing with top-level Thoroughbred action culminating with Sunday’s Donn Handicap.
If this weekend is your first trip out here, it’s always good to know where you’d like to spend the day; so I spent this afternoon wandering around the facility to help you get familiar with the scene here at Gulfstream.
First things first: the parking is free, and there are even complimentary shuttles that will pick you up from your car and drive you to the main entrance if you happen to park far away. I love that – I honestly can’t think of too many other sporting venues outside of racetracks that offer free parking, much less free parking and free shuttles!
Once you get inside the facility, there are so many options to choose from. You can live the high life in the Ten Palms restaurant, watching the races while sipping champagne; or, you can chill out in the tiki lounge and have a few cold beers while playing the ponies. Any way you go, you’re in for a great time in a beautiful setting when you’re here.
The first floor of Gulfstream Park offers a wide variety of places to catch the action. The tiki area has a thatched-roof bar with betting windows, shaded seats and a premium view of the races, too.
There are also tons of food choices there, too, like this food truck: while I was informed that the grilled corn on the cob sold here was amazing, I was totally distracted by the succulent-looking Bar-B-Que’d ribs.
If you’re more into a hot dog at the track, Gulfstream has you covered: there’s a stand right there in the tiki area that also serves up ice-cold beer – always a fun choice on a warm Miami afternoon.
The main viewing area of the ground floor is called the apron of the racetrack, and Gulfstream’s apron offers fantastic views of the racing action. You can stand right on the rail as the horses parade past, giving you an up-close view as you decide how to place your bets.
And once the race is on, it’s a great place to watch and cheer on the Thoroughbreds as they battle each other to the finish line.
The apron also has lots of seating and great stadium-type snacks; it’s a great place to grab a beer and a pretzel while you’re figuring out who’s going to win the next race.
If you want to eat something a little more substantial, there’s a food court right inside that serves up delicious, satisfying food like carved sandwiches, pizza and fried chicken.
This area is also right next to the winner’s circle, so fans can get an up-close and personal look at each race’s victor.
If you’re in the mood for a celebratory drink (or need to drown your sorrows) you can head over to the Breezeway Bar. This is a watering hole located in the main walkway between the track and the back of the facility, and it’s always crowded with people quenching their thirst between races. There are also tons of TVs and betting machines there, so people can keep up with the racing action as they enjoy their favorite libation.
There are also cutout photos of some of Gulfstream’s top jockeys posing above the bar as well as plaques that outline their bios and career achievements.
One of my favorite spots on the first floor is the paddock. This is where the horses are paraded for fans as trainers, jockeys and owners strategize before the race. Gulfstream’s paddock is spacious and has stadium-style seating surrounding it for people to pick their favorite horse before each race.
And right next to the paddock is a raw bar that also serves up one of my favorite Floridian treats: stone crab claws. Stone crab meat is delicate and sweet, and it’s a must-try if you’re visiting the state from out of town.
The second floor of Gulfstream Park has lots of entertainment and dining options as well. The track has an in-house casino, so if you’re feeling extra lucky or have some spare cash from a winning horse, this is a fun option.
There’s also Ten Palms Restaurant, a gourmet sit-down dining area that has panoramic picture windows that overlook the racetrack. It’s a very popular spot, so I would recommend making a reservation ASAP for the weekend.
Ten Palms also has a huge bar area, and it’s a great place to have a refined cocktail while overlooking the races.
There’s a wonderful statue of the legendary Cigar in the entryway of Ten Palms. Cigar was one of the horses who cemented my love of horse racing when I was a young teenager, and he won four of his 16 straight victories right here at Gulfstream Park.
The third floor of Gulfstream is Christine Lee’s Chinese Restaurant; I am telling you right now that the food here is so very excellent, and I’ve wandered past some very well-known faces when I’ve been up there. It’s not unusual to see people like Larry King relaxing over an egg roll and reading the racing program in this area, so it’s a really fun place to do a little horseplaying and stargazing over chicken and broccoli.
And when the racing day is done and you’ve fattened your wallets with the money you’ve won betting, Gulfstream also has a high-end retail and entertainment center attached right to the track with all kinds of boutiques and eateries throughout. It’s a great way to end a fun day of adventure in South Florida!
Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be back tomorrow with more coverage of Donn Handicap weekend at Gulfstream Park.